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California News

After dry January and February, sierra snowpack far below normal average

SierraSnowPack.png
Earth Observatory
/
NASA
A side-by-side aerial comparison of the Sierra Snowpack. 2020 on the left, 2021 on the right.

The California State Department of Water Resources says state residents should start preparing for a third straight year of drought.

Californians should prepare for a third straight drought year. That advice comes from the State Department of Water Resources (DWR) following a manual snow survey on Tuesday in the Sierra near Lake Tahoe.

Sean de Guzman is the manager of snow surveys for DWR. He says the snowpack is 63% of the average for this date. "December, January, and February are traditionally our three wettest months of the water year, producing over half of our annual rainfall. However, this past January and February were actually the driest consecutive January and February on record dating back over 100 years in the Sierra Nevada," said Guzman.

There are no major storms in the forecast. DWR officials say the low snowpack, combined with already low reservoir levels, makes it more critical than ever for Californians to step up their conservation efforts.

Governor Gavin Newsom has asked residents to cut back their water use by 15 percent, and Tuesday's survey is likely to add pressure to make the rationing mandatory.